Hester Peirce, a commissioner with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and a strong advocate for cryptocurrencies, is calling for clarity on digital assets from lawmakers and regulators. Speaking at the Permissionless II conference in Austin, Texas, Peirce expressed her surprise at the SEC’s slow progress in developing a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies since she joined the commission in 2018. She cited countries like Switzerland and Singapore as being ahead of the curve in crypto regulations, but noted that the situation in the United States is different.
“I haven’t seen a lot of changes for the better,” said Peirce. “You do have a lot of people who know quite a bit about crypto at the agency, whether that’s in FinHub or throughout the divisions. You have people who are actually quite knowledgeable, and I think that that has changed in the time that I’ve been there.”
The SEC, under the leadership of Chair Gary Gensler, has faced criticism for its approach to regulating digital assets. It has been accused of a “regulation by enforcement” strategy. Currently, the commission is involved in civil actions against crypto firms Coinbase, Binance, and Ripple. Additionally, it has not yet approved a spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund for listing in U.S. markets. In August, Grayscale Investments won an appeal against the SEC’s rejection of its spot ETF application, potentially leading to a review.
Peirce refrained from commenting on any specific court cases involving the SEC but encouraged institutions in the crypto industry to engage with the commission to find a way forward. She suggested that the agency could have a change of heart regarding its crypto-related policies.
“Don’t give up on the United States. This too shall pass, the confusion shall pass,” Peirce said. “The United States is a good place to build things and I want it to stay that way. But come forward with very concrete ideas… be thinking of concrete ways that you need clarity.”
Currently, lawyers from the SEC are meeting with their counterparts at Binance.US in a Washington D.C. courtroom hearing to discuss a motion on the need for expedited discovery in a civil suit. This follows Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao’s announcement that Binance.US CEO Brian Shroder is taking a break from the company, amid reports of other executives departing.
It is clear that Peirce is advocating for a more proactive and clear regulatory approach to cryptocurrencies in the United States. She believes that the country has the potential to be a leader in the crypto industry and wants to ensure that it remains an attractive place for innovation and development. However, she emphasizes the need for concrete ideas and communication between industry players and regulators to achieve this goal.
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